BY Art Thiel 06:30AM 01/24/2016

Thiel: Seahawks and Chancellor: Now what?

The holdout of Kam Chancellor was the most unexpected blow to another trip to the Super Bowl for the Seahawks. They need to resolve it quickly, or prepare to deal him.

With a 90-yard pick-six, Kam Chancellor had a big time against the Carolina Panthers a year ago in the playoffs; not so much last week. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

Over the past five seasons, two players gave the Seahawks their distinctive reputation for ferocity and physicality, one on each side of the all — RB Marshawn Lynch and SS Kam Chancellor. Lynch put the Beast in the offense and Chancellor the boom in the Legion.

Both could be gone next season. Who’s going to scare opponents then? Tyler Lockett?

No disrespect to Lockett. Besides being fast and quick, he’s remarkably tough for a little guy. He was the best new guy on the team in 2015. He deserves much respect.

But is he feared? No. He is among numerous Seahawks who collectively are good enough to contend again. But are any of them dreaded by the opponent? No, not like Lynch or Chancellor.

They made foes think twice before engaging them. A small edge, but every edge is valuable is a hard game played only by the toughest.

The Lynch situation, you know about. He’ll be 30, he’s been injured for the first time, he seems at odds with management (which he will be wherever he goes), he’s expensive. And presuming a return to good health of Thomas Rawls, Lynch has someone who is on the outskirts of replacing him.

The Chancellor situation is different. A few weeks before training camp, he surprised every one of his teammates, coaches and fans by holding out after the first year of a four-year deal. And while coach Pete Carroll won’t admit it, Chancellor’s holdout was the one thing he didn’t see coming, and for which he had no workaround.

In terms of fines and missed paychecks, the foolishness was costly for Chancellor; it was at least as costly for the team. They lost, closely, the two games he sat out, and upon his return, he was part of a defense that under-performed by its own standards in a 2-4 start.

Chancellor also under-performed by his own standards. He had some highlight moments, including two forced fumbles that were pivotal; one against WR Calvin Johnson that averted an embarrassing home loss to Detroit; and another against RB Adrian Peterson that set up the game-winning field goal in the Minnesota playoff game. And he set the club record for most tackles in a game with 19 (seven solo) against Arizona.

But he was part of breakdowns in coverage that contributed to home losses to the Bengals and Panthers, and generally was not the menace he had been in previous seasons.

“I think it was hard for him to just . . . he had to endure the starting part of the camp in-season,” Carroll said in his post-season wrap-up. “You do that in preseason. You get two weeks, and then you get another four (exhibition) games.

“Usually you can ease into that, so it was more taxing on his body. He handled it well. He dealt with it very well. His attitude was good, but still it’s demanding. It’s a lot to ask of somebody.”

So was the holdout. The odd thing was how it ended. Chancellor just gave it up, apparently without anything to show for no-win position. He and Carroll had a Sept. 23 press conference, in which they agreed to shelve talks until after the season; nothing would be discussed about business.

The season is over. Now what?

Asked about Chancellor and DE Michael Bennett, in the same contractual situation as Chancellor (unhappy after the first of four seasons) and who threatened to hold out before reconsidering, Carroll shrugged and avoided.

“There’s all kinds of stuff we’re going to be working on,” he said. “I’m not going to single anything out right now, because there’s no way I can do that and be talking straight with you, because I don’t know. We have a lot of thoughts, and we’re just going to start putting them together over the next few weeks.”

Carroll was asked whether the holdout, which teammates undoubtedly hoped would succeed for the precedent it set, but cost them wins, had lingering impact.

“Only in terms of continuity and communications,” he said. “We made a big mistake in the (regular-season) Carolina game (that allowed the winning touchdown). That’s totally uncharacteristic. Maybe just the fact that we weren’t together as much. It wasn’t necessarily that it had to do with Kam at the time.

“There’s a fine tuning to the relationship, the communication, the awareness, that you have to be together (at training camp) to do it. Otherwise camp wouldn’t be that valuable. We think it means something. I don’t think it had an effect other than that. I think Kam was a marvelous factor in this clubhouse.”

The biggest differences from the Lynch situation is that Chancellor, at 28 in April, is still in his prime, has two guaranteed seasons left and has no backup ready to succeed him.

But if Chancellor can’t be appeased contractually by a modest advancing of future money to the present, do you think the Seahawks should put up with a situation that puts another overmatched talent such as Dion Bailey in the starting lineup to compensate for a pout?

I say no.

As with most pro sports, the NFL is a ruthless business with thin margins between victory and defeat. The owners have a big advantage over players in the collective bargaining agreement that defines contracts. If Chancellor truly thinks he’s underpaid, he needs to take it up with the union and his agent, and have them explain to him why he signed the $28 million, four-year deal that at the time made him happy.

It was inevitable that the safeties market would outpace the deal. Why should his teammates take the hit for that? And now that he has under-performed a bit for a year, the contract is still in place. The Seahawks will not be asking for givebacks.

Free agency begins March 9. Before that, in the pile marked “all kinds of stuff” by Carroll, they need to pull out the Chancellor saga and resolve it early, or prepare to trade him.

Over the past five months, Chancellor lost leverage and goodwill, the Seahawks lost games and patience. The relationship can begin repairs with a fast settlement that precludes a difficult chase in the trade market, or free agency or the draft for someone who can approximate his original value in talent and menace.

If any team can do it, the Seahawks’ track record suggests they can. Remember, Chancellor was a fifth-round pick out of Virginia Tech.

They would love to avoid it, because they don’t want to go into the 2016 season attempting to replace Beast and Boom.


YourThoughts

  • Talkjoc

    I like Kam as a run stopper. But he can’t cover Tight Ends. The “Legion of Boom” was blistered by opponents Tight Ends and we all saw Kam trying to chase them down. Hate to say it but he’ll be complaining about his contract again this year and it’s time to move on. Trade him.

    • art thiel

      Can’t assume every TE pass completion was Chancellor’s fault. Seahawks defense’s priorities are: nothing over the top or on the edge. So they will always be a little more vulnerable to TE seam routes and RBs out of the backfield. They will take those smaller risks in exchange for the more frequent chances to get a turnover via pass disruption, either with QB pressure or press coverage on WRs.

  • 3 Lions

    If management adjusts Kam’s deal they have address Bennett’s also who is more deserving really.
    Why we couldn’t cover good tight ends in crucial situations this season was a back breaker.

    • art thiel

      See above for explainers.

  • DJ

    Good call, Art. Hard to say what Kam’s issue really was – brain fart? Yes we need him, and actually, we need him in his former capacity where TE’s were covered like he was their overcoat – and he made them pay – cite Vernon Davis. I’m sure our ineffectiveness to cover the premier TE’s is more scheme than individual, which is something that the coaches need to work out. He’s a unique talent, an essential piece of the teams foundation, and I want him back, but not at the sacrifice of potential unreliability. It will be a most interesting off season.

    • art thiel

      It’s wise to understand that other offenses have gone to school the previous three seasons on Seahawks vulnerabilities, and understand that the Seahawks by scheme are more willing to allow TE receptions. Besides Chancellor’s holdout, what hurt the defense early was the hire of CB Cary Williams. He just couldn’t catch on to Seahawks requirements for CBs.

      • DJ

        Thanks Art. Yes, I couldn’t agree more with the other teams studying the Hawks’ weaknesses. It’s the smart thing to do.
        The Cary Williams experiment seemed to take way to long to end – of course we were thin with injuries then too. It’s funny, one of his first games the network pointed out the differences between Williams’ old and new “Seahawks” techniques for coverage, and I believe he actually had a good game…..guess old habits that die hard came back to haunt!

        • art thiel

          He wasn’t terrible, but he wasn’t good enough for a team that builds from the back of the defense.

          • DJ

            …..the weakest link maybe? We’re not used to having an area of the defense get picked on, and he kinda did. It’s all good now, and reinforcement coming off of IR.

  • Topcatone

    A contract is a contract. You sign and the team signs and you both carry out your ends. If a player won’t fulfill his contract, bench him, sue him, but don’t let him play I don’t care who he is. No holdouts; dump them for the season the minute they try, and let everyone know about this process ahead of time. Who signs a four year contract then holds out in the first year?????

    • Comrade Suge

      Just like how cutting a player is acceptable, so is holding out. Deal with it or find another league.

      • Eric

        I agree for the most part. The contract is a contract argument is only valid when it’s 100% guaranteed like MLB or NBA.

        The weird thing about his hold out to me was the fact that he was pretty much the top paid Strong Safety in the league. He earned $2,498 less than Reshad Jones in Miami, but had more guaranteed money. http://www.spotrac.com/nfl/rankings/average/strong-safety/

        • art thiel

          Chancellor misjudged his value, and misjudged it late in the NFL calendar. Seahawks were stuck with forcing Dion Bailey into a start.

      • art thiel

        Holding out made more sense under previous CBAs, not this one. Chancellor had zero leverage after one year. Seahawks couldn’t risk opening the door to others.

    • art thiel

      It’s great to live in a black-and-white world, but I don’t know how to get there. Chancellor made a foolish mistake. The Seahawks held their ground, but still needed him to succeed, especially after the 2015 salary money was allocated. So he came back, and the Seahawks were again the best defense for a fourth year in a row.

      The reckoning was postponed, and it has now arrived,

  • rosetta_stoned

    Don’t forget, if not for the missed figgy in Minnesota, we’d be talking about how Kam screwed up – twice – and cost us that game, too.

    He used to be my favorite ‘Hawk.

    But after the stupid holdout and sub-par play this year? He can walk.

    • Dutches62

      Same here , He used to be my all time favorite but the way he behaved was very disappointing and I KNOW he let his teammates down … they said it without saying it ,, if you know what I mean . He wasn’t the fear monger he once was either when he returned . I still think really that his knee is hurt more than he wants to admit .

      • art thiel

        Kam lost a lot of ground with a lot of fans on a hopeless crusade.

    • Sonics79

      Kam owes Blair Walsh a Target gift card worth about $4M.

      • art thiel

        Kam might give half to AP for not wrapping up.

    • art thiel

      But Chancellor also ripped the ball from Peterson to set up the winning FG. He had a good year when healthy and not holding out, but well short of his best.

  • 1coolguy

    As DUMB as Kams holdout was, which really told everyone what is most important in his life (me, me, me), it wasn’t about “team”, was it?
    Yet given that, the reason for the poor start and the majority of our losses was the pathetic Oline and THAT is on Pete and John. Their expecting that in the NFL a cobbled OL can be a SB performer is, as we all observed, is simply a fools errand.
    Hopefully in teh months that have passed since his holdout the discussions he and his agent had with John have sunk in, which I expect were in essence “No F’ing way we renegotiate a contract after ONE year” or two for that matter.
    If he or his agent bring this to daylight again this off-season, then, as we all concluded after his holdout, they are both certifiable and didn’t learn their lesson.
    An excellent way to determine and judge Kam’s ability to think logically and honestly is whether he has the same agent, who clearly provided very poor advice. If he is the same, then expect the same foolishness.

    • Comrade Suge

      Is there something wrong with looking out for yourself? If Kam broke his neck, do you think the Seahawks would honor the rest of his contract?

      • 1coolguy

        Let’s live in the world of reality which broken necks is not a part of. If players are injured and can’t play well, they get cut and are paid whatever guarantee is left on their contract. It’s the way it is and everyone knows it.
        Also, if he plays like crap, the team still has to pay the contract – is that fair? Yes, because it is contracted and required.
        So your position works both ways and players and teams look out for themselves.

        • art thiel

          I think some fans get confused by the ease of guaranteed money in MLB. The union more or less runs MLB; the owners are in charge of the NFL.

        • notaboomer

          no let’s disrupt reality by nominating bernie sanders!

      • art thiel

        Issues with guaranteed money are subject to the collective bargaining agreement. It’s not a moral issue; it’s whatever the sides agree are the rules.

    • art thiel

      You’re assuming that Kam works for the agent. It’s the other way around. My guess, without knowing specifics, is the agent tried to talk him out of the holdout.

  • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

    Former player Dave Wyman came out today and suggested they reward Bennett and shun Chancellor to make a statement and reward the player who played both to a pro bowl level and showed up for work on time. It is what they would do in the corporate world but I would hasten to say Kam would demand a trade in that scenario.It is all they need is a training camp of discord again.
    I do love the point made that the club will not be asking for assets back for less than stellar play rendered in 2015 by Chancellor. The pouty Bam Bam lip would def come out in that audacious move.Which is an irony as there is nothing more audacious than the Chancellor hold out that made this thing a mess in the first place.
    JS has his work cut out in smoothing the drama over this off season.

    • Dutches62

      Dave is right on there .

    • art thiel

      The corporate world doesn’t deal with unions or salary caps. Not an accurate analogy.

  • Warchild_70

    Kam’s stock fell with that hold out as did his performance returning cold and expect to be at full flight? Sorry but the way he handled this is nothing but selfishness and unacceptable. If he starts with out trouble great one mention of his contract it’s time to find a replacement or trade for a TE the size of a NBA center you know a 6’7″ 238lb skyscraper with an attitude of a gut shot Grizzly!

    • art thiel

      They already have Graham.

      • Warchild_70

        I’m sorry Art Mr. Graham must improve quickly to be an all round tight end and yes he has to either bulk up more or learn to channel some nastiness into blocking. I do believe he can do it under the right coach. Man do I miss Zack.

  • PokeyPuffy

    The Hawks and pretty much everyone else in the NFC will have to figure a way to get past the Panthers next year and judging from the last two weeks it will take more than an attitude-adjusted Chancellor to do it. They are simply dominating the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. They just dismantled two fairly hot teams from the NFC west. Perhaps more is needed than just a refresh this season, maybe a bit more soul searching? As Sun Tsu said, “If you know yourself but not the enemy for every victory gained you will also suffer defeat.”

    • Comrade Suge

      Remember too that the Seahawks were in the same boat as the Panthers 2 years ago. It’s cyclical, having said that, that Newton deal signed this past year was a steal for the Panthers.

      • art thiel

        It is cyclical. Seahawks are trying to extend the length of the up-cycle, which was why Chancellor’s holdout was an unxpected setback.

    • art thiel

      The Seahawks understand Sun Tsu more than you know. But Carolina learned much from four losses in a row to the Seahawks. They became smarter, and more talented. Kudos to them.

      • John M

        Exactly, Art. Carolina has built a great well-coached team and will probably win the SB. And between now and September every NFC team will be building to beat them. Just like people came gunning for the Hawks. Kam may stay or go, either way it won’t matter if there is not significant O-line improvement, and will they be able to keep Okung??

        • art thiel

          I don’t think they can afford to pay market for Okung, especially with the chronic injruries piling up.

  • Paul Harmening

    Spot on!
    Trust. When broken, hard to get back. Cam broke it. Time to move on.

    • art thiel

      Kam is definitely worth keeping. But not at any price.

      • Paul Harmening

        Yes, if they can kiss and make up. Just can’t see it at the moment, even though I”m hoping against hope.

  • Sonics79

    So, here’s the thing. Fans say a “contract is a contract, you signed it, not shut up and play.” Well, Marshawn has a contract for next season, but his boss is going to ask him to take a pay cut, or release him.
    It’s a double standard. Just playing devil’ls advocate …

    • art thiel

      NFL owners always have had leverage in each of the CBAs, including this one. They have the least guaranteed money per contract than any other pro sport, and it’s the one that, for players, needs it most.

    • notaboomer

      well put, satan.

    • art thiel

      Fans rarely see the clubs’ ruthless ability to end careers.

  • Tman

    In a non profit, non taxpaying organization like the NFL, what’s wrong with dividing up the money fairly, as they do in non profits like Pat Robertson and Jim and Tammy Faye Bakers churches? What is wrong with honest accounting of income and expenses producing the gross profit which is then divided three ways, owners and players share 80 percent equally*, 20 percent goes to the treasury of the city hosting the team.

    *Example 62 players (practice squad is expense)
    26 coaches
    1 owner
    1 Contingency share for a new owner or player to be named later
    Total 90 shares..

    Every one is happy. No cap on anyone’s earning. Nobody pirating another teams owners, players and coaches. No agents. Everybody concentrates on winning for themselves and the fans. Any hit on earnings an NFL owner takes in a scenario like this is pocket change to him. He might even sell his share.

    • art thiel

      They do share TV revs and lots of other income streams. It’s been a long-running joke about the NFL: Ruthless capitalists six days a week, and socialists on Sunday. Where you been?

  • MacPhisto92

    This article mentions losing to the bengals at home…that game was in Cinnncinatti

  • Chris Montgomery Pinson

    Art, I really think you’re overlooking the obvious. The question was brought up numerous times.. “Why is Kam holding out after only the 1st year of a 4 year contract when he has no leverage and he is not by any means significantly underpaid?” I said it prior to the season, and his play this year has only backed my theory. When discussing the issue with numerous other fans the first thing I always said was, “I really hope he isn’t holding out because the recovery from his surgery didn’t go as well as hoped for.” It is my opinion that his significantly lesser play this year was attributed to something I saw as obvious that for some reason has not been mentioned by any mainstream sports writers from what I’ve seen. Kam has lost at the least a step or two post surgery along with some of his fast twitch muscle response AND he knew it before anyone else did and this is the reason why he was on a ridiculous and head-scratching money grab of a holdout. His issue all season has been he’s slow or late arriving to where he’s supposed to be on the field. He was a liability in more than just coverage this season.. he was also out of position in the run game or recovering where others erred to save a big play. He is a really strong.. big.. man, especially at the safety position in this league. He has always drawn comparisons to being a lb that plays the safety position which was only possible due to his great speed for a player his size, likely a big reason why the Seahawk’s drafted him because we like big nasty freak athletes. Take that away and you now have a lb playing out of position who isn’t fast enough to get where he is expected to be on the field. The highlighted plays you brought up this season were his forced fumbles – these were both opportunistic plays that he came in and helped with someone elses assignment or on a guy who was already engaged. We all know Kam was a great safety and knows how to play the game, but I saw these plays kind of like how every great slowly fades but has a few plays left here and there where their vet savvy makes up for their declining abilities. When looking at Kam’s play this season I really think you need to isolate the discussion to how he dealt with his own assignments throughout the year. And don’t fall for Pete or John’s well he had a rough offseason and didn’t get the benefit of training camp and exhibition to get back up to speed – its harder to do so during the season BS. I think that’s more damage control for a player that they know has lost some value on the market and they are definitely considering moving. If this was really to blame then why did we see Sherman and Thomas both come in similar situations and while they may not have come out the gates looking like the two best at their position in the league, I would certainly contend they regained form pretty quickly and ended the season right back up top.
    As you said earlier, the Seahawk’s were able to get Kam in the 5th round.. they molded him into the player he was/is.. there is an increasing number of guys coming out every year that have ridiculous size coupled with speed and I don’t think its at all out of the question to think we go that route this offseason. The free agency market is very strong at safety this year so we can always get a vet temporarily and I really don’t see a scenario where it isn’t the best option. What was the drop-off when McCray replaced Kam for a couple games when he was injured? Honestly, I think we were better in areas and McCray who was probably not ready for the bright lights was still flying around the field and made some good plays. Give him some time this offseason to be coached up a little more and the Seahawks might not even need to worry about strong safety. What I do know is if we keep Kam at the safety position, the defensive scheme is going to need to be adjusted to account for his lessened speed that teams consistently targeted with tight ends and wrs on routes that ran across the middle to draw him into coverage. But then again, coaching was questionable at times this season – they continued to go back to stuff that had worked in 2013 and 2014 instead of what had been working this season in the 2nd halves of games when we were behind and the 2nd half of the season on both sides of the ball. There’s no way they shoulda had Lane covering Olsen in a redzone passing situation.. still disappoints me nobody called them on that one.. the one guy that had been detrimental to their success in both games and we leave our best defender, Sherman, on the other side of the field and let our smallest cb cover their largest guy – he stuck to him like glue and made a great attempt at poking it out, but the size advantage was the difference. Anyhow, I’m ranting at this point.. but as Hawk’s fans there was no shortage of issues to contend with this season despite the seemingly obvious fixes for them.

    • art thiel

      Chris, I appreciate your well-considered thoughts. But Chancellor didn’t have off-season surgery. His knee injury the Friday before the SB was a sprain, not a tear. He was healthy by May as this story shows:

      http://blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks/2015/05/29/kam-chancellor-finally-surgery-free-this-is-the-strongest-offseason-ive-had/

      He did have hip surgery in 2014.

      In no way was his holdout health-related. His speed may have diminished, as is often the case after five NFL years, and he did hurt his tailbone near the end of the season. But no particular mysteries are apparent to me.

      • Chris Montgomery Pinson

        Good catch i mispoke there on the “surgery” part just meant the torn acl along with a deep bone bruise recovery which he probably should have gotten surgery on along with removal of the bone spurs in his ankles. you are wrong about it being just a “sprain” insinuating that means no tear.. as well as him being completely healthy as that was clearly not the case and you will understand as i explain it further. The injury was reported by every major outlet as a tear, beyond the one article you linked by the news tribune. You can go ahead and make the argument that it was not a complete tear (which im not sure about.) But I would assume you saw the reference to the injury as a sprain abd made the assumption that meant no permanent damage but if youre familiar with medical terminology sprain is kind of a generic term including 3 seperate grades: grade 1 referring to stretching without a tear, grade 2 is stretching with a partial tear, and grade 3 being a complete tear. Even if its a grade 2 that means that the ligament is shredded including a bunch of torn strands and the rest are then stretched thin and long also attempting to carry more than their load and becoming more strained. Having played sports and recovered from grade 2 and a grade 3 “sprains” on my ankles before without surgery just physical therapy and strength training, i know first hand that the joint is never the same and you lose a lot of your fast twitch explosive burst. Beyond that your joint is more prone to sprain again in the future unless you get the appropriate surgery and they clean up the ligaments and make sure they have all reattached to the bone properly as they wont necessarily do so if just allowed to heal naturally. My personal experience was that i ended up having to go in and get my ankle surgically repaired as it was rollypolly and kept getting reinjured and the ligaments were stretched too much to regain their natural stability. After they shortened the ligaments on both sides to prevent it from rolling and restore stability they also had to clean up the spurs which were caused as the ligaments snap they generally do so at their weakest point which is where they attach the bones together.. often taking bone chips off the ends and causing the bone to spur when it tries to repair the chipping.

        Anyways point being… its clear to everyone besides you apparently that his chirping in the offseason about being healthier than ever was not the case and was as i said posturing.. he knows his body better than anyone and where he played through a torn mcl and deep bone bruise last year he sat out two games this year due a “tailbone injury” clearly the guy is falling apart due to his entertaining big hitting style. To suggest that he was completely healthy is just lazy journalism.